Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Are We Becoming What We Have Been Taught to Fear?

Within the last year, two novels set in Nazi Occupied France- "All the Light We Cannot See" and "The Nightingale"- have become national best sellers. Now, a symbol of teacher resistance in Nazi-Occupied Norway-the Paper Clip- is being adopted by teachers in the US who feel under attack.
Is this accidental? I hardly think so. Many working class and middle class Americans who have watched their living standards plummet and their jobs be destroyed feel like THEY are under a kind of occupation by soulless and greedy elites. While it may be extreme to call it "Fascism," there are elements of that system visible in the convergence of government and corporate power, the militarization of police, the destruction of unions, rapid gentrification in cities, the erosion of civil liberties and attacks on vulnerable groups by people seeking public office. When you add to this the acquittal of those responsible for the deaths of Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin, you have a sense that government and corporate power in the US represent a Colossus that rules over the lives of ordinary citizens, one which they are powerless to resist.
Am I exaggerating? Perhaps. But the popularity of novels and symbols forged in resistance to Nazi occupation, at the very least, should be a warning that something here has gone terribly wrong and that many people in this country feel powerless and vulnerable and fearful.